Week 1 overreactions and hot takes: The Big Ten is awesome and USC is overrated

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There is still some college football to be played, but the bulk of college football’s first weekend is in the books. Now it’s time to take a look at some of the hot takes and overreactions you may come across in the coming days. Which ones are fair, and which ones should you avoid? Here is a look at five that will get some attention.

The Big Ten is the best conference in college football

The Big Ten just turned in an impressive 10-2 mark for the opening weekend, not including Ohio State’s victory over Indiana in conference play Thursday night. Highlighting that win total was Michigan’s defensive performance against Florida in Arlington, but top 10 teams Wisconsin and Penn State also turned in decisive blowout victories against inferior opponents as well. Maryland spoiled Tom Herman‘s coaching debut against a low Top 25 Texas squad, and even Purdue and Rutgers managed to hang with Louisville and Washington, respectively, before turning in the only two blemishes on the Big Ten schedule in Week 1. All things considered, it was a very good week for the Big Ten.

But now let’s see what happens in Week 2 with some notable games against the Big 12 (Ohio State vs. Oklahoma, Iowa State vs. Iowa), Pac-12 (Oregon vs. Nebraska, Oregon State vs. Minnesota), and the ACC (Penn State vs. Pitt, Duke vs. Northwestern). An equally successful Week 2 would go a long way to support the Big Ten’s strength of schedule argument. A rough week would negate the production of Week 1.

It’s still Alabama and everybody else in the SEC

This may still be true. Alabama’s win over Florida State certainly made it seem like that on the same day that saw Florida dismantled by Michigan. But LSU turned in a good showing against BYU in New Orleans, as did Auburn at home against Georgia Southern. And Georgia put to rest any idea about an Appalachian State upset bid rather solidly with Jake Fromm stepping in at quarterback. The SEC still has two more games to play with Texas A&M visiting UCLA tonight and Tennessee taking on Georgia Tech in Atlanta tomorrow. With a handful of victories over the FCS, one of which needed Missouri to put up over 50 points to win, it is still a tad early to suggest the SEC overall had a great weekend despite an 11-1 mark so far. Alabama, yes. The rest of the SEC? We’ll see how the next 48 hours go.

The U is back!

No, not yet, although Miami starting the year with a 41-13 victory over an FCS foe in Bethune-Cookman did nothing to suggest we should dismiss the idea already. Miami heads to Arkansas State, who just pushed Nebraska to the limit last night. I’ll be careful about placing the Hurricanes on upset alert after doing so a year ago against Appalachian State blew up in my face. Florida State in two weeks remains the litmus test.

USC is overrated

Despite turning it on in the fourth quarter like the Trojans were back in the Rose Bowl against Penn State, USC had a difficult time with Western Michigan in the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday. We’ll see how the pollsters weigh in on the Trojans, who started the year No. 4 in the preseason AP Top 25. With Sam Darnold being picked off twice and the Trojans having trouble getting going, perhaps USC is not quite as mighty as anticipated. Stanford comes to town next week. Let’s see if the Trojans iron out a few things with the Cardinal coming in rested from their trip to Australia a week ago.

The American Athletic Conference is far from a power conference

This much we already knew despite the conference’s PR push to be considered a power conference. TEams are even taking the field with a Power 6 flag and the conference’s P6 logo is on the goal posts this season. But the conference just went 8-3 this weekend. Wait, that actually sounds pretty good. Take away the wins against FCS opponents (one of which needed a fourth quarter rally by UConn against lowly Holy Cross) and the conference went just 3-3, with one of those losses coming at home against the top-ranked FCS program in the nation (James Madison beating East Carolina) by a 20-point margin.

Defending champ Temple was soundly defeated by Notre Dame by 33 points. Preseason favorite South Florida needed a second half burst to get by Stony Brook. At least Navy, Memphis, and UCF looked good this weekend though.

At least the Mountain West Conference had an equally shaky Week 1, if not worse. Colorado State and Wyoming combined for six points. Utah State was blasted by Wisconsin. Boise State held off Troy. UNLV surrendered the biggest upset in college football history.

Don’t let Saquon Barkley distract you from the season Stanford’s Bryce Love is having

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Saquon Barkley is incredible. The Penn State running back is every bit a deserving Heisman front-runner, what with his 66 carries for 518 yards and four touchdowns, his team-leading 23 grabs for 335 yards and two touchdowns, and his 22.86-yard average on seven kickoff returns. This isn’t a criticism of him.

But I want to introduce an idea to you right now, and I want you to take a deep breath first: it’s possible Barkley is not having the best season of any running back in college football. At least not to this point.

Take a look at Stanford’s Bryce Love‘s first four games:

  • 13 carries for 180 yards and a touchdown in a 62-7 destruction of Rice
  • 17 carries for 160 yards and a touchdown in a 42-24 loss to USC
  • 13 carries for 184 yards and two scores in a 20-17 loss to San Diego State
  • 30 carries for 263 yards and a touchdown in last night’s 58-34 defeat of UCLA

Add it all up and you get 73 carries for 787 yards and five touchdowns, which not only means Love leads the nation in rushing yards per game — he leads the nation in rushing while averaging 10.78 yards per carry.

Love not only leads the nation in total rushing yards, he not only leads the nation in rushing yards per game, he leads the nation in yards per carry for all players anywhere in the neighborhood his carry total. Four players rank ahead of Love in yards per carry thus far, and those three players have toted the rock 76 times — combined.

The next closest player on the yards per carry rankings with at least 70 rushes is San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, who averages 7.87 yards on 91 carries. That’s an incredible number, and still 27 percent lower than Love’s average.

Stanford may not win enough for Love to join Barkley in the Heisman conversation, but right now it appears the two running back spots on every All-American team are locked up until further notice.

Georgia, TCU replace Ohio State and OK State in top 10 of latest AP poll

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Big wins over ranked opponents pushed Georgia and TCU into the top 10 of the latest Associated Press poll, released Sunday. Voters were apparently more impressed with Georgia’s 31-3 whipping of then-No. 17 Mississippi State in Athens than they were of TCU’s 44-31 upset of then-No. 6 Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Georgia moved up four spots while TCU jumped seven, but the Bulldogs remained ahead of the Frogs by two spots, No. 7 to No. 9.

Elsewhere, Washington creeped forward one spot, Washington State and Louisville nudged forward two, and South Florida, San Diego State and Utah leaped three spots forward. Notre Dame and West Virginia returned to this week’s poll at Nos. 22 and 23, replacing upset losers Florida State and Oregon. Unlike the Coaches’ Poll, voters remembered that Mississippi State hammered LSU by 30 points just eight days ago, keeping the Bulldogs one spot ahead of the Bayou Bengals.

The full poll:

  1. Alabama — 1,515 total points (52 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson — 1,458 (2)
  3. Oklahoma — 1,397 (1)
  4. Penn State — 1,304
  5. USC — 1,247
  6. Washington — 1,188
  7. Georgia — 1,136
  8. Michigan — 1,088
  9. TCU — 1,028
  10. Wisconsin — 1,023
  11. Ohio State — 1,016
  12. Virginia Tech — 828
  13. Auburn — 701
  14. Miami — 693
  15. Oklahoma State — 665
  16. Washington State — 551
  17. Louisville — 502
  18. South Florida — 406
  19. San Diego State — 365
  20. Utah — 356
  21. Florida — 342
  22. Notre Dame — 246
  23. West Virginia — 212
  24. Mississippi State — 148
  25. LSU — 92

 

Coaches’ Poll: Georgia moves into Top 10, TCU doesn’t

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The more irrelevant of college football’s two exhibition polls is out following Week 4 action, and it’s not radically different from last week’s edition. Georgia and TCU were this week’s biggest movers, jumping four spots apiece for their respective wins over then-No. 17 Mississippi State and then-No. 7 Oklahoma State. Each of the losers of those games dropped seven spots, Oklahoma State to No. 14 and Mississippi State to No. 24, which is somehow two spots behind an LSU team that these Bulldogs absolutely hammered just eight days ago.

Mississippi State remains one spot ahead of Florida State, who somehow edged out Notre Dame for the final spot despite losing to unranked NC State at home. West Virginia returned to the poll at No. 23, taking the place of Oregon, who fell out after falling 37-35 at Arizona State.

The full poll:

  1. Alabama — 1,570 total points (59 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson — 1,499 (4)
  3. Oklahoma — 1,443
  4. Penn State — 1,328
  5. USC — 1,306
  6. Washington — 1,277
  7. Michigan — 1,152
  8. Georgia — 1,089
  9. Ohio State — 1,066
  10. Wisconsin — 1,029
  11. TCU — 985
  12. Virginia Tech — 877
  13. Miami — 727
  14. Oklahoma State — 687
  15. Auburn — 664
  16. Washington State — 574
  17. South Florida — 522
  18. Louisville — 505
  19. Utah — 437
  20. Florida — 345
  21. San Diego State — 315
  22. LSU — 221
  23. West Virginia — 184
  24. Mississippi State — 132
  25. Florida State — 104

 

SEC acknowledges officiating error on Kellen Mond would-be touchdown run

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The SEC conference office isn’t supposed to take sides, but deep down the league had to be rooting for Texas A&M to beat Arkansas yesterday.

In the second quarter, Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond took off for what should have been an 89-yard touchdown scamper to bring his Aggies to within 21-14. Except the side judge incorrectly ruled him out of bounds, mistaking his white cleat of Arkansas defensive back Josh Liddell. It was a human error mistake that no one could do anything about once it happened.

Texas A&M settled for a field goal on the drive, losing four points that should have been theirs. Sure, it wasn’t the refs’ fault that the Aggies couldn’t cash in a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line, but that isn’t A&M’s problem. Mond ran into the end zone without being brought down or stepping out of bounds.

The point, thankfully, became moot hours later when Mond and his charges completed the comeback, winning 50-43 in overtime.

Still, the SEC office on Sunday acknowledged the mistake and that there was nothing anyone could do about it.

“On the play at 10:02 in the second quarter of the Arkansas vs. Texas A&M game, the ball carrier was incorrectly ruled out of bounds and the play whistled dead by the official.

“Based on NCAA football playing rule 12-3-3-g, ‘If the ball carrier is ruled out of bounds, the play is not reviewable.”

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if the NCAA can change the rule on plays such as this. Rules makers adapted to add a clear recovery clause in which a fumble is prematurely blown dead, and the play above shows that Liddell kept trying to tackle Mond even after Mond was incorrectly ruled out of bounds. So why not just allow the touchdown to stand?